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NEWS | June 20, 2017

CES Airmen navigate through deployment training

By Airman 1st Class Kaylee Dubois 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

As an improvised explosive device detonated, everyone dropped to the ground. For just one moment, there is silence, then shouts of assurance echo throughout the air.

Although just a training environment with simulated IEDs, the situation appeared real for the 633rd Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen donned in Kevlar vests and helmets.

The simulated situation was part of the 633rd Civil Engineer Squadron’s Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force land navigation and convoy training held at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, June 15, 2017.

The Prime BEEF training, held monthly, is designed to strengthen Airmen’s deployment skills and enhance readiness. The training is conducted squadron-wide and each team may be comprised of Airmen from various sections within the 633rd CES, ranging from explosive ordnance detection, to pavement and construction equipment or water and fuels system management.

This month’s training included land navigation using maps, compasses and protractors, as well as convoy training with simulated-IEDs and testing situational awareness skills. 

As rapidly-deployable units, 633rd CES Airmen are required to provide a wide variety of engineering support in establishing, operating and maintaining garrison and contingency air bases.

According to U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Lloyd Swede, 633rd CES pavement and heavy equipment craftsman, although the Airmen may not regularly work alongside one another while at home station, that may change in a deployed environment.

“It’s important to do this type of training so our Airmen are familiar when they do deploy (together),” said Swede. “A lot of the time, CE Airmen get deployed with the Army, or get placed in (forward-operating bases) where they would have to perform movements like what we did today.”

With the advantage of being a joint base, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Shayne Ross, 633rd CES operations flight Prime BEEF liaison, expressed that the 633rd CES can utilize Fort Eustis to better simulate the training, saving the CES team time and money 

“Conducting this (training) elsewhere would be difficult to coordinate and require more resources,” said Ross. “However, with the connection to Fort Eustis, (we) can organize exercises easily utilizing the existing training areas and facilities.” 

Once half of the Airmen within the squadron have finished the land navigation portion, the teams rotated to complete the convoy training. With each Prime BEEF training session, the instructors gather the Airmen together to discuss proper protocols. 

“Here, it’s almost real-world because you are running through the woods performing the maneuvers like you would while deployed,” said Swede. “It was absolutely awesome being able to come use the (training areas) and facilities.” 

The trainers also encouraged the Airmen, throughout the training, to communicate, learn each other’s strengths and build morale, allowing them to train as a cohesive team to perfect their skills downrange. 

“The mission -- their lives -- could be at stake if they aren’t trained properly,” said Ross. “This is all for deployment purposes. What we train here, we bring out into the field, and have to react properly if a situation occurs.”

Whether it’s training on the weapons range or obstacle course at Fort Eustis, the 633rd CES team is certain the real-world environment prepares their Airmen for when they go downrange.